Red Sox Trade For Brad Ziegler Will Make An Impact

Jun 13, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Brad Ziegler (29) throws during the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Brad Ziegler (29) throws during the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

By acquiring Brad Ziegler in a trade, the Boston Red Sox greatly improved their bullpen situation. His style will take the pressure off and stop the leaks.

Well, nobody can say that the Red Sox brass have been sitting on their hands, as of late. They have made their third trade in the last two days by adding to their struggling bullpen. reported that Boston has acquired “sidewinding reliever Brad Ziegler from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league right-hander Jose Almonte and minor league infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe.”

The roster move was possible when the Red Sox moved Blake Swihart from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL, making a spot available for Ziegler.

The trade comes none too soon, as Boston had continued to struggle with their bullpen members either getting injured or giving up crucial runs at the end of tight games. Even in last night’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays, 41-year-old Koji Uehara gave up a home run to Evan Longoria before eventually locking the game down for the save. With big additions like Carson Smith and Craig Kimbrel suffering injuries, it was looking like Koji would have to go through the rest of this season shouldering the burden, especially since Smith’s elbow soreness turned into Tommy John surgery at the end of May.

Enter Ziegler.

The 36-year-old Kansas native has spent his nine-year career with the Oakland Athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Over that span, Ziegler has posted a 2.49 ERA with 81 saves in 107 opportunities. This season, he’s made 18 saves in 20 opportunities, striking out 27 batters in 38.1 innings of work. Ziegler’s current opposing batting average is a bit high at .281; however, just last season, his average was .198.

To put those numbers into perspective, Ziegler’s numbers are not all that different from the big-name closer the Red Sox brought over in the offseason. Kimbrel has earned 17 saves in 19 opportunities.

The key difference is their approaches. Kimbrel has struck out 50 batters in 33 innings, posting an opposing batting average of .178. At 28 years old, the younger Kimbrel brings the heat at 97.5 mph, according to, just over 71% of the time that he throws a pitch. That’s not Ziegler’s game. The wily veteran hasn’t thrown a traditional four-seamed fastball or a two-seamer since 2011. His release works much more effectively with the sinker, throwing it over 60% of the time at just under 84 mph. Ziegler’s arsenal also includes a curveball and a changeup which baffle batters into either lucky singles or ground balls for easy outs. added, “Ziegler’s submarine pitching style leads to many ground balls. In fact, Ziegler leads all major leaguers in grounded-into-double-play percentage (20.8) since the start of 2008, and his ground ball rate of 67.4 percent is the highest among active relief pitchers (minimum of 750 batters faced).”

That last point is going to be the biggest addition that the Red Sox have needed in the bullpen for a long while. Even if Ziegler is moved into a setup role for Kimbrel, the team won’t have to worry about making sure that he starts fresh in a new inning. His style dictates that he can be brought within an inning, with men on base, so that Ziegler can induce a ground ball for a double play and get Boston out of trouble. It’s been a while since Ziegler has had to be used in such a fashion, so it will be interesting to see how his mental toughness performs under that particular situation, if needed.

Next: Red Sox Acquire Brad Ziegler To Strengthen Depleted Bullpen

While the trades for Aaron Hill and Michael Martinez sure up the bench, the addition of Ziegler should have an immediate impact on how the Red Sox utilize their bullpen. They now have three men who have been closers for their respective teams in the last year. If Kimbrel can get healthy enough to dominate in the ninth inning, Ziegler and Uehara should be able to handle the seventh and eighth innings. At least, one would hope that they could. On paper, the Ziegler trade looks to be the biggest one, so far, that should help the team plug the run leaks in the ship that’s trying to sail to the postseason.